MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s elections agency has withdrawn ballot registration for a ruling-party state candidate who was nominated despite accusations of rape against him.
The decision drew the wrath Friday of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who has defended candidate Félix Salgado and criticized women’s groups who objected to his candidacy.
“This is an attack on democracy,” Lopez Obrador said, saying that “high powered, mafia interests” wanted Salgado disqualified as candidate for the governorship of southern Guerrero state. “This is anti-democratic.”
The National Electoral Institute ruled late Thursday that Salgado had failed to report the money he spent during the primary process, and that his candidacy would no longer be officially recognized.
Mexico will hold state and federal mid-term elections on June 6.
Salgado won the nomination of López Obrador’s Morena party earlier this month, despite protests by women’s rights activists. He has not personally addressed the accusations, though his lawyer has denied them.
Salgado vowed Friday to fight the decision in court, calling it “rude and arbitrary,” but did not say whether he had reported all spending as required by Mexico’s election laws.
Salgado was chosen as candidate by a poll of Morena party members despite nationwide protests over the fact two women accused him of rape.
López Obrador was stung by protests against his administration over his refusal to break with Salgado. The president said the issue should be left up to voters in Guerrero, and claims it is being brought up by his foes, “the conservatives.”
Salgado has not been charged; the statute of limitations ran out on one case and the other is still being investigated.
Salgado, who goes by the nickname Toro, or “Bull,” is a former federal legislator and mayor of Acapulco who has been been known for questionable behavior in the past. He was filmed scuffling with police in Mexico City in 2000.
Former Guerrero state prosecutor Xavier Olea told The Associated Press that the current governor of Guerrero, Hector Astudillo, ordered him in 2017 not to investigate one of the rape accusations against Salgado, though Astudillo has denied that.